On June 27, the Senate passed an immigration reform bill that
includes a youth jobs program proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders
(I-Vt.). The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 68-32.
The immigration bill includes a pathway to citizenship for 11
million undocumented immigrants; the DREAM Act which offers
conditional citizenship to those who were brought to the U.S. as
children; and stronger security for our borders. This bill will
also provide legal status for agricultural workers - including
those working on dairy farms in Vermont.
"Like any piece of complicated legislation there are aspects of
this bill which I strongly support and others I disagree with,"
Sanders said. "One of the areas I have serious concerns about and
want to see improved as the bill progresses is the huge increase in
guest worker programs. At a time when unemployment remains
extremely high, these programs bring hundreds of thousands of
skilled and unskilled workers into our economy making it harder for
U.S. citizens to find jobs. Addressing that concern, I'm proud I
was able to include in this bill a significant employment program
for young people."
The Sanders program would provide $1.5 billion over two years
for states and local communities to help find jobs for more than
400,000 unemployed 16- to 24-year-olds. Currently, the official
unemployment for that age group is 16.2 percent.
"This program will help hundreds of thousands of young Americans
find jobs and earn the skills they need to build strong careers,"
Sanders said. "At a time when the unemployment rate for these young
people is twice that of the rest of the country, it is absolutely
imperative that Congress help them find jobs. The establishment of
a youth employment program for 400,000 young people is a good step
forward in addressing our unemployment crisis. Obviously more needs
to be done in the months to come."
Sanders commended Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick
Leahy (D-Vt.) for his leadership on this issue as well as Sen.
Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), chairman of the immigration